Updated: Jun 19
The following is a reflection on the George Floyd incident. George Floyd was killed after a Minneapolis Police Officer used a deadly force neck restraint maneuver on Floyd while he was handcuffed lying on the ground. The purpose of this reflection is to discover and share my perspective on the events I have witnessed. This is my personal opinion. It does not represent any institution and is meant to be pondered.
I write this as a former Police Officer and Field Training Officer. I have looked at the George Floyd case closely from many different view points. I have friends who see themselves in Floyd’s dying face, and I have other friends who feel the projections of the distrust and anger caused by these officers actions.
I left my job as a Police Officer years ago, due to personal conflicts with the Criminal Justice System as a whole. That’s not to say there aren’t great humans within the law enforcement and criminal justice career fields. I knew many. The system and the direction it is taking simply does not align with me and my purpose in this lifetime. I also felt like my opinion wasn’t allowed to be shared openly, in the way I would choose, as I was a representative for the department I worked for.
That being said, in all federal, state and local trainings I received as an officer and in all martial arts and combat training I’ve participated in for my own enjoyment and competitive reasons, it is made verrrry clear that neck holds/neck pins/neck restraints (like the one used on George Floyd) outside of a competitive sports environment are to be considered deadly force maneuvers. This means when applied, a neck restraint technique should be used to immediately destroy or deactivate an individual presenting an immediate threat to the life of another. To further explain, if you’re going to choke or restrain someone by the neck, you should be able to clearly articulate the necessity for the murder of that person.
That being said, the only way the actions I’ve seen in this video should be seen as acceptable is if the handcuffed George were trying to pull a firearm from his pants. If that were the case, and a neck restraint were justified, the officer would be expected to apply the neck restrain immediately and with a level of violence/force that the restraint would disable George within a matter of seconds.
NEVER, under any circumstances, not as a basic control technique or as deadly force, should a neck restraint be applied for more than a few seconds. It is a very powerful maneuver and can kill and incapacitate in seconds! 8 to 9 minutes of a neck restraint maneuver is both deadly force and torture. The casual mannerisms of the officers involved further enforce the idea that nobody’s life is under any type of immediate threat.
The media is known for airing controversial cases that pose two sides with conflicting view points. I consider these stories designed to divide. This is not that.
The officer driving past your house sees this video and knows it’s wrong. The officer stopping you for speeding knows this is unacceptable. The officer responding to the armed robbery at the corner store understands why this is wrong. There are many larger issues tied into this case. Realistically, many of those won’t be solved this go around.
This is a major opportunity though. This is the point in time where communities begin having open conversations with the officers that patrol them. Not with their City Council. Not with the local Police Department. Not with the Police Supervisors. Now is the time to have conversations with the officers that show up when they’re requested and are responsible for making the split second decisions.
Police are great listeners. They’re trained to listen to every side of a situation multiple times. Police are also justifiably a bit paranoid. That creates a conflict with the ability to listen. They’re paranoid about some one harming them and they’re paranoid about making the right decision. It’s stressful. It’s unnatural. To make matters worse, many of the communities where their conversation is needed the most are equally paranoid, and for similar reasons. This makes listening quite difficult by everyone involved.
If you’re in one of these communities (or any community), I would invite you to ask an officer what they think of the George Floyd case. Remember what I just said when you do so. Give them the same space and courtesy you give other humans. Approach them with general interest in their answer. I would venture to guess that you will find a lot more in common with your feelings on the topic than you would expect.
Approach your local officers with the understanding that the tension and anxiety you feel when you see them is the same anxiety they feel when they see you. They’re being told by every news network that they are hated and evil, and they know they’re greatly outnumbered by the general public. Allow them to be human. Allow them to share their feelings. Allow yourself to be human. Allow yourself to share your feelings.
The media wants to paint a picture of hostility and disconnection. They want fires and riots. They want ratings.
We must overcome these things. We must understand how the police operate in our communities. If we disagree, it’s up to us to speak with them. It’s time for candid open discussion. This goes beyond political correctness. No more tip toeing around feelings. It is time to speak freely and openly to one another with a goal of moving towards understanding. These things take time and look chaotic. We’re up against a system operating behind the scenes that is not human. As humans, we must start building alliances and gaining some ground to stand on.
Now is the opportunity to connect community members and police officers as individuals. It is time to move beyond the system that in-prisons the communities it serves and the people who serve within it. Everyone may not agree on all, or even on any other highly disputed use of force case. This one we can agree on. It is wrong. Everyone sees it. Things are changing.
We can all put on masks, break windows, flex muscle and light fires. That’s nothing. We’ve seen that movie play out our whole life.
Who’s gonna let their tears out instead of their anger? Who’s gonna admit they’re scared? Who’s gonna quit getting their information from a television and go to the source?
We’ve seen who can tear the city down. Who’s gonna build the bridge to reconnect?
In conclusion, to the black communities who have felt unheard and unseen. You have been. Today, the country is watching. Speak like the world is listening.
To the Police who stand the line bridging order and chaos, remember who you are. Remember why you’re here. You’re on the world stage. Play the role you want to be remembered for.
Keep It True.
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